It's nice to be back as a guest poster! Today i'm sharing a delicious and amazingly simple dish that is a staple in the Cuban kitchen and by virtue of its deliciousness should in fact be a staple in every kitchen. I first set my eyes and immediately after, taste buds, on this dish in the home of my wife (creater and curator of this fine blog) years ago when we were merely two high school aged lovers with serious crushes on each other (still do). Anayway, I digress...her mother, Lili made a delicious version of this Cuban classic and I fell head over heels in love with it and so that is what I have come to base my recipe around. The dish you ask?...Picadillo!
This dish actually originated in Spain (like most Latin culinary staples) and then as it spread throughout the Latin world it took on little nuances here and there but for the most part it's fairly similar throughout. I've eaten it in San Jose, Costa Rica where it was mostly comprised of potatoes and peppers and was served over plain white rice with avocado and tortillas (it was insanely yummy). I've also had it homemade by a friend of mine from the Philippines who makes it the way her family did back home. This preparation was very similar to the Cuban version except in place of olives there were big chunks of boiled egg (be still my heart...). Basically any representation I've had of it was reminiscent of the last so feel free to be very creative with this dish. As long as you have the basics in order it's Picadillo with whatever else you like in it. The recipe i'm providing is a little different as it is meant for the more health conscious person so in place of ground beef i'm using ground turkey. This is not the traditionally used protein but hey, it's still freakin' yummy! If you want to make this in a more traditional fashion then use freshly ground beef (I highly recommend grass fed ground chuck) and keep everything else exactly the same and you'll be off to the races! Oh yeah almost forgot...that white fluffy looking stuff in the bowl next to the Picadillo is not rice, it's cauliflower rice and it's really delicious and gluten-free (see below for preparation). If you want real rice then go for it! The traditional Cuban Picadillo is served over Moros which is white rice cooked in black bean "juice" then mixed with black beans but that's another post...baby steps!
What you need:
1 lb ground turkey (avoid 99% lean, you want a little bit of fat here)
1 medium white onion
1 cup red wine (traditionally it's white but I like the depth of flavor the red gives it...your call)
1 can crushed tomatoes (16 oz can)
2 TBSP tomato paste
1 red bell pepper diced
1 green bell pepper diced
6 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup pitted olives (or as many or few as you like)
3 TBSP capers (or as many as you like)
1/4 cup of the olive juice
salt & pepper to taste (season at the very end right before serving so as not to over salt)
How to make:
First things first (and this is the trick I learned from Lili, Christina's mother) take your onion and peel it and then half it. Put one half aside to dice and roughly chop the other half and place it in a food processor with the 6 garlic cloves and process it into a paste (using some olive oil here if needed). Over medium high heat, heat some olive oil (or coconut or avocado oil) in a medium pot (I use my Le Creuset but that's just because i'm fancy AF. You can use whatever high sided pot you have.) Add the ground meat and cook until browned. Remove the meat and set aside. If you're using beef, this is where you would pour off the fat. In the same pot add a little more oil and throw in the other half of that onion you diced. Cook it for about 3 minutes over medium heat and then throw in your peppers and cook an additional 3 minutes. Add the garlic and onion puree mixture and cook everything, stirring constantly for an additional 5 minutes or so. Stir in the tomato paste then add the meat back in to the pot and thoroughly mix. At this point, you can add the wine and the crushed tomatoes along with your capers, olives and olive juice.* Bring it all to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes uncover it and raise the heat a bit to allow it to reduce if needed. The consistency should be kind of like chili...Once it reached the desired consistency - season to your liking and serve. This recipe will serve 4 moderately hungry humans or 2 legends.
*this is where you would add diced potato if you wanted to. Raisins are also very popular in traditional Cuban Picadillo but I don't use them because my wife is not a fan. I think they are a yummy addition however, so if you so desire throw about 1/4 cup of raisins in there at this point.
1 head of cauliflower rinsed and broken into small florets and then pulsed into rice like pieces in a food processor
1 small shallot finely diced or 2 TBSP finely diced onion
Add all florets to a blender working in batches if necessary and pulse 3-5 times or until the cauliflower is broken down into rice sized pieces. Be careful not to purée! Get a pan nice and hot over medium high heat, add olive oil and throw in the shallot or finely chopped onion and cook for about 2 minutes. Lastly add the cauliflower and cook until the texture is similar to well cooked rice which is around 7-8 minutes (soft but not mushy). Be careful with the heat, it shouldn't start sticking to the pan. If it does, turn the heat down. Season with salt & pepper to taste (cauliflower can take a good salting) and you're done. Mix in beans, peas or almonds for added texture/flavor or leave as is and enjoy!